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Davis serial stabbing suspect pleads not guilty

A motive for the stabbings — two fatal and one life-threatening — that terrorized the community of Davis, California, for a week, remains unknown.

WOODLAND, Calif. (CN) — Suspected serial stabber Carlos Dominguez pleaded not guilty to two counts of premeditated murder and one count of attempted murder at his arraignment hearing on Friday, just one day after his arrest.

The 21-year-old former UC Davis student could face the death penalty under the special circumstance of multiple murders. 

Before reading the charges, Yolo County Superior Court Judge Daniel Wolk noted that he lives only a half mile from the second murder scene in Davis and that his wife may have seen the suspect less than an hour before the violent attack took place while walking their dogs. 

Dominguez stared forward from behind Plexiglas as the charges were read. He was assigned a public defender, Dan Hutchinson, who fought for Dominguez’s bail to be kept at $4 million. Matt DeMora, an attorney with the Yolo County District Attorney’s office, pushed back. 

“Given the danger that the defendant represents to the public, I would ask no bail to be set,” DeMora said after calling the stabbings “egregious.”

Wolk agreed, stating that no amount of bail or release conditions could protect the public. 

Dominguez faces charges in the stabbing deaths of David Henry Breaux, 50, and Karim Abou Najm, 20, and attempted murder of Kimberlee Guillory, 64. The attacks gripped the college town of Davis, home to over 13,000 students of UC Davis, who regularly flood the local shops and are known to bike just about anywhere. 

David Henry Breaux was fatally stabbed on April 26. A pillar in the Davis community, Breaux was found dead on a park bench he frequented. The community knew him as the ‘compassion guy,” a soft-spoken man and Stanford graduate who published a book after asking countless people what compassion meant to them. An iconic mosaic bench made in Breaux’s honor is now overflowing with flowers, candles and photos. 

The second victim, Karim Abou Najm, was stabbed to death on April 29, 2023, while he crossed through a local park on his way home after an undergraduate awards ceremony. He was set to graduate with a computer science degree in just six weeks. After a disturbance at the park was reported police found Najm, who was declared dead. 

The third victim, Kimberlee Guillory, was attacked and stabbed multiple times in her encampment tent on May 1, 2023. She was able to call the police and receive life-saving emergency care. 

Davis police zeroed in on Dominguez after asking for the public's help to identify possible suspects after combing through eyewitness accounts of a man, aged 19 – 23, with dark curly hair, a white hat, and riding a straight-handled bicycle. They approached Dominguez on Wednesday near the same park where Najm was killed, and Domingez offered no resistance before being handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car. 

Police said at the time he has detained, Dominguez had a hunting knife in a backpack and was wearing pants that matched the suspect’s description. 

Little is known about Dominguez’s possible motive. UC Davis records show he was a third-year student majoring in biological sciences until just before the first murder, when he was “separated for academic reasons,” according to a statement from campus officials. Dominguez has roommates who police said have been cooperative during questioning. 

Dominguez received an academic scholarship at UC Davis and was on track to become a doctor. In a medical internship profile, Dominguez talks about his doctoral aspirations and love for medicine and how much it has helped his grandmother.

“Maybe people think it’s boring, or it’s scary if you’re a surgeon and you see all that blood, but saving someone’s life makes you feel good about yourself,” the profile states. 

Additionally, he was previously a star student, with a high school GPA of 3.85, and was heavily involved in sports and volunteer work after immigrating from El Salvador in 2009. 

“Nice kid. I never had any issues. He is very well respected by his peers. He respected adults,” Dominguez’s high school football coach said in an interview with KCRA3. “I wouldn’t see where this would come from.”

Police and the town of Davis felt relief following Thursday's arrest, and several community members were present at the Friday arraignment. At a press conference following the arrest, Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said all the evidence pointed to a potential serial killer. 

Further proceedings are set for May 22, 2023. 

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Categories / Criminal, Education

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